Why Are Railroads an Important Part of American History?

Railroads have played a crucial role in shaping American history. From the 19th century to the present day, railways have been instrumental in connecting people and goods across the vast expanse of America. In this article, we will explore why railroads are an important part of American history.

Connecting the Nation

One of the primary reasons why railroads are so significant is because they helped connect the nation. Prior to the advent of railways, transportation was slow and expensive.

People and goods had to rely on horse-drawn carriages or boats to travel from one place to another. This made it difficult for people living in remote areas to access essential goods and services.

With the development of railways, however, transportation became faster and more efficient. Railways connected cities and towns across America, making it easier for people to travel long distances quickly. This also made it possible for goods to be transported more quickly and cheaply, which helped boost economic growth.

The Railroad Boom

The late 19th century saw a massive expansion in railroad construction across America. This period is known as the “railroad boom,” as rail companies raced to build new lines and expand their reach.

The railroad boom had a profound impact on American society. It created new jobs for workers who were needed to build and maintain rail lines. It also spurred economic growth by making it easier for businesses to transport goods across long distances.

However, the railroad boom was not without its problems. Many rail companies engaged in corrupt practices, such as bribing government officials or using violence against workers who demanded better wages and working conditions.

Impact on Westward Expansion

Railroads also played a crucial role in westward expansion during the 19th century. As more rail lines were built across America, settlers were able to travel westward more easily than ever before.

This helped spur settlement in areas that had previously been difficult to reach, such as the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Railroads also made it easier for farmers to transport their crops to markets in the east, which helped boost agricultural production.

The Decline of Railways

Despite their importance in American history, railways have declined in recent years. The rise of automobiles and airplanes has made rail travel less popular, and many rail companies have struggled to remain profitable.

However, railways are still an important part of American infrastructure. They continue to play a crucial role in transporting goods across long distances, and they provide an alternative to road transportation that can be more efficient and environmentally friendly.


In conclusion, railways are an important part of American history. They helped connect the nation, spurred economic growth, and played a crucial role in westward expansion during the 19th century. While they may not be as popular as they once were, railways remain a vital part of American infrastructure today.